Separate and not equal: Why sales teams need specific compensation packages

As much as companies would like every member of their sales teams to be driving revenue and really moving the needle, the fact of the matter is that some people are just better at selling a business’ products and services than others.

As Fox Business notes, there tend to be three different categories of salespeople: Laggards, average performers and all-stars. All-stars are the salespeople who consistently exceed expectations, average performers do an adequate job and laggards are behind the curve. Companies need to recognize the difference between these groups of salespeople and compensate them for their efforts accordingly.

“Sales teams are not homogenous groups,” Thomas Steenburgh, a professor and researcher at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, explained. “They are made up of individuals with different levels of motivation and who care about different things. If companies tailor their incentive programs in ways that recognize these individual needs, then they will get the most out of a wider spectrum of sales employees.”

Steenburgh was quick to note that the most attention is paid to all-stars because of their individual potential, and also because managers tend to stem from the all-star group. However, the average performers typically account for the greatest number of salespeople, so focusing on the all-stars results in poorly planned incentive management initiatives for this group.

“Core performers can’t make their numbers if they aren’t in the game,” he added. “They get the least amount of attention, yet they are the most likely to move the needle if given the appropriate set of incentives.”

Boosting core performer productivity

While better incentive management programs are one solution to bolstering the productivity of core performers, companies could also try providing better sales coaching. This will help them develop the core skills they need to step their personal game up to the next level.

By elevating this group to the same status as all-stars, companies can go a long way in boosting not only their revenue, but also the loyalty of their most valued salespeople. In that regard, while coaching and training may cost money, it ends up providing a lot more value in terms of retention.